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Energy – How to survive in Winter

David Hordijk davidhordijk

Energy – How to survive in Winter

08/05/2019 at 22:37

So I like renewable energy. It’s supply fluctuates though. We could bridge days with batteries, but batteries are not a good option for storing energy for an entire season. It’s expensive and the capacity would have to be huge. Getting through winter thus poses a complex challenge. In winter, at least in the Netherlands, there’s almost no solar energy to harvest, because of shorter days and the incline of the sun.


So, what are we going to do? Storage options like hydrogen can be stored for seasonal differences, but they are wasteful in terms of energy.


Basically my question is, what would the entire energy system look like? I know there is seasonal thermal energy storage, which could help in this respect.


I would love to hear the communities’ thoughts on this!

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09/05/2019 at 00:01

I just hope there is just 3 phase at 380 V so Precious Plastic v5 can happen at all. There will be enough after math (support, issues,.. as would expect from any decent other open source project …) for version 4 anyways.

The hardcore off-grid guys I know use little to no energy from the beginning. Yes, candles and kinda profane romantic sun sets; I enjoy this myself from time to time, just for fun but if you wanna fight the plastic problem or just build your own eco-village, there is simply no way around having just an electricity line. In the south like portugal, you may harvest with one grid enough to run the household, no worry.


09/05/2019 at 16:23

Hydrogen may be wasteful in terms of energy, but still stores it very effectively. And the stored energy can also be used as a fuel to power “heavy” machinery (like a car ‘running on water’).


It might not make sense in a ‘just enough’ setup, in which the ‘creation’ and ‘storage’ of energy are balanced, but in a large scale setup, why ‘switch off’ the windmill or water dam just because the grid/battery can’t handle the current excess current?

That’s when you start producing the Hydogen…


I never ran the numbers, but I would also guess the storage of Hydrogen might be way cheaper, and might have a lower carbon footprint than any battery ever invented.

This might even offset the ‘wasted’ energy and your costs for (to) clean water.


So I would say: Don’t discard Hydrogen just yet.


10/05/2019 at 22:13

One possible solution is to create biogas from anaerobic digestion of a variety of feedstocks.   The technology is well established, although you do have to tailor the equipment to suit the range of feed materials you may have available (or plan to have available).  Biogas can be used for space heating, cooking, and it can also fuel internal combustion engines (e.g. for electricity generation).

11/05/2019 at 00:34

YEs I agree Frogfall.

Biogas is great, it can be used for so many different applications and can be made with just a bucket and some hose.

There are so many great resources for info on YouTube.

Storage is easy as propane bottles and inner tubes are everywhere. just have to keep in mind scrubbing out the sulphur from the gas so that it can be safely stored in steel containers without corrosion.

11/05/2019 at 17:33

Another interesting alternative, especially for exposed locations, is direct conversion of wind to thermal energy.  This is much more efficient than converting wind to electricity – as discussed in the following article (from the excellent “Low-Tech Magazine”).
Heat your House with a Mechanical Windmill

12/05/2019 at 22:01

I really like wind energy it has so many applications, it does seem to be a cleaner alternative to solar, and if you are in the right location where the wind blow than harnessing it would be a great way to go.

When Alberta Canada started to putting up windmills it started drastically impacting our bat populations not sure if this would be the same for a different area, but may be an impact.

Also have you considered mechanical batteries? I really wish i could help with this project first hand R&D are my passion and drive in life.

Right mechanical batteries, you can use water towers and miniature water turbines you can pump water with air bubbles and then harvest the water batterie with gravity. I would imagine that very efficient system could be developed however more math must be done.

Also now that i think about it, just because I am stuck in a different country doesn’t me i cannot contribute R&D to the project.

12/05/2019 at 23:08

Portugal (project Kamp) produces enough renewable energy for everyone 🙂 Would be great to know how much energy any of this methods can produce with low-tech/cost. To make sufficient progress on Precious Plastic v5 and v6 you need at least 20 Kw hour the day … looks like I or you guys missed the train again 🙂

13/05/2019 at 11:21

I think in any case, we’d need an energy plan that adds up. I think it would be interesting to make a quantitative picture of how much energy you use plus how (thermal, electric) and when. I think you will need this to see what are viable options. I think going off grid is really tough, like pporg says.


I agree with Donald in that I’m nog against Hydrogen storage, especially if the choice is between switching off renewable energy or storing it into hydrogen.


Though I think there are better options available like seasonal thermal energy storage combined with heat pumps. This way you can use excess electricity more efficiently.


With biogas I’m a bit concerned about where you’d get it from, especially in such quantities that it would make a difference. Though, if some feedstock is an excess of your system, it might be a valuable thing in your energy arsenal.


Wind is nice too, though location dependent. A larger turbine is much more cost effective than a small rooftop turbine, so you’d need some space.


Mechanical storage like pumped hydro storage takes up a lot of space, though is efficient as far as I know. Again, location dependent.


The Netherlands seems like a tough spot as it’s not so sunny, flat (tough to use height differences for energy storage) and there’s not much space anyhow.


I’m really enjoying this guys, and I’d love to get together some time perhaps to crunch some numbers if people are up for it?

13/05/2019 at 12:39

Also did some small scale testing with a ‘soda can heater’ like this:


I unfortunately don’t have the possibility for large scale testing, but if you have an exposed southern wall (or northern, for the cooling), it might be worth starting to upcycle alluminium cans as well!

13/05/2019 at 19:09

@donald , what technique are you proposing for storing hydrogen?  My understanding is that the low density and effective storage has kept it from being used for general transportation.

13/05/2019 at 20:21


Like any gas I think compression would still be the easiest way to go.

It is true Hydrogen contains less energy per volume than other hydrocarbons, which makes it problematic for use in transportation, but in other uses (like homesteading) simply using a bigger tank is not a problem.


In the Netherlands we are even considering replacing natural gas with hydrogen for household use. Probably never gonna happen, but it does speak to the versatility of Hydogen. It could even fit the existing infrastructure.


Hydrogen may not be he most effective way of storage, energy-for-energy, but in the bigger picture you can’t get more ‘elemental’.


13/05/2019 at 22:02

Perhaps it is time to reinvent the Gas Holder. 🙂
These were originally designed for storing Coal Gas (which was a mixture of Hydogen and Carbon Monoxide).  They were later repurposed for use with fossil methane – and eventually replaced with pressurised storage.
It is relatively simple, and old, technology – but it works.

13/05/2019 at 22:26


Might just be a crazy enough idea to work… again!


Storage in some kind of balloons was less succesful, though


13/05/2019 at 22:32

Though the mobile version had some issues.

……I guess I’m a few minutes slow

13/05/2019 at 23:12

From Biogas Backpacks…

The bag presents no explosion risk because it is isn’t pressurized, Puetz says. “You can put the bag on an open fire and it will take 15 to 20 seconds to even melt the material. It is a very heavy duty material. And even after you’ve melted a hole the gas will come out and slowly flare off, because biogas needs to be mixed with air to be flammable,”

14/05/2019 at 00:00

Got it. A bean rich vegan diet and a sealed bag attached to each Kamper….Yep winter problem solved

….sorry, I could not resist

14/05/2019 at 06:06


Here is a idea. Septic system that also makes cooking gas

14/05/2019 at 08:22

To conclude (something):

Simple (gravity pressurised) storage sollutions for gasses, be it bio or hydrogen, are not only available but already tried an tested and in use worldwide.


They might not be ideal for an Urban Homestead, but once you go rural and have some space (and have your own composting system anyway) they should be a great addition.


My vote: Add some Gas Holders to the Project Kamp map!

14/05/2019 at 09:32

Membrane-based storage is quite common nowadays, and may be sufficient for relatively small scale biogas generation.


Using a site digester for also treating human waste is certainly feasible – however the amount of gas available from turd digestion will be negligible. Even farms that process large amounts of livestock slurry find that they need additional higher calorie feedstock, for co-digestion, to produce decent quantities of methane.

This has resulted in the crazy situation where maize is used to supplement digester feedstock, because it is cheap – although it is only cheap because of unsustainable fossil fueled farming methods. This is why alternative sustainable feedstocks need to be developed (e.g. duckweed).

20/05/2019 at 23:47

Has the community considered co-oping with Open source ecology?

Video on heating

21/05/2019 at 00:01

@makedo, i did and i took a good time to study your plans, machines, website and forum(dead?). We’re doing our best to work out a independent ‘library‘. We also tried of course to convince to initiators of PP to enhance the platform for such publicly extendable library but it did end nowhere .. We’re still waiting for PP v4 but from what I know it’s not changing the situation in terms of collaboration, tools or access since it’s more of a single person’s brand pet-project/ brand thing as well their revenue stream;kinda a monopoly, no idea really ,…
However, looking at your library, ours and the machines PP I see lots, lots of overlap. We would be excited to have it all as one thing. What’s best to talk with you ? I see there is also lot’s to do on your side/site 🙂 I will pm you just.

21/05/2019 at 00:16

I’m sure wood-fired underfloor central heating is fine for some countries. However the start of this thread was about energy options in the Netherlands – which isn’t exactly renowned for its vast forests.

Annual ‘energy crops’, such as Miscanthus Giganteus, might be compatible with such a system, though.

21/05/2019 at 00:24

what a pity all that good stuff and thoughts are kinda lost in this ‘forum’ 🙁

21/05/2019 at 11:52

I just saw the Monthly News #27 from Dave, and in the context of project Kamp, the aim has moved mostly to Portugal, which seems like a much easier starting point than the Netherlands in terms of space and sun.

21/05/2019 at 22:12

Bio gas can be used as an alternative in the in floor heating unit. Also the system lends well to be adapted to run with biomass composting systems.

21/05/2019 at 23:24

Does seem a little over complicated, though. And some of these “oxygen barrier” multi-layer polymer pipes aren’t exactly low tech 😉

Speaking of low tech, here is an article about Oven Stoves from Low Tech Magazine.

12/06/2019 at 13:13

Hydrogen station explodes, Toyota halts sales of fuel cell cars, is this the end? 

Until the full accident report comes out, it is foolish to speculate. But that is what the news press tends to do.

A hydrogen refueling station exploded in Norway on Monday and the company operating the station has suspended operation at its other locations following the explosion.

Now, Toyota and Hyundai are both halting sales of fuel cell vehicles in the country.

Does this spell the end of fuel cell hydrogen vehicles as a “zero-emission” alternative?

12/06/2019 at 13:21


Well, watching some Hydrogen engine conversion videos yesterday, 4 out of 5 ended in an explosion…
To me this just spells out Hydogen really really really wants to be fuel!

On the other hand, not many dynamite powered cars on the road either these days…

08/11/2019 at 01:49

Hello guys,

As a suggestion to create energy in winter, there is few alternatives that you could consider.

Hot water : Just build by yourself some solar heater. Low-tech lab is doing some great stuff on that, you are going to love it. Depending on your needs and if you still planning to go to Portugal, that should be no problem. Worst case, you just need few extra old fridges 😉
Here is the link : https://wiki.lowtechlab.org/wiki/Chauffage_solaire/en

They have a lot of cool things that could be useful for the rest too.

Apart from that, Dave mentioned in the introducing video that he wanted to have a tower in the center of it. While not using it to store the energy you need ? A quite cool startup : https://energyvault.com/
Just build your own that match your need.
How hard can it be ? (risky sentence)

Good luck and keep us posted on whatever you pick !

08/11/2019 at 14:32

If we don’t know where the next location is, it’s guessing on the cold winters or not.. all we know is that they were looking in Portugal?

In one of the video’s Dave mentioned that the energycost was 25K. This means 100000kWh/year. Seems like alot, where they melting plastics 24h/day or something?

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